This blog post was written by Rachel Chanderdatt a Girls Write Now mentee about the May CHAPTERS reading on May 29, 2015 with keynote speaker Roxane Gay.
In the homey green room, girls touched up their makeup while others talked about past experiences at CHAPTERS. I looked up at my mentor, Rhoda, and said we should make our way to our seats. The nerves were already getting to me, and I thought silence might help. But in the auditorium, the soft buzz of the green room only magnified with the buzz of the one and only Roxane Gay in the room.
Dazed in full admiration, like a true fangirl, I found myself maneuvering through the crowd to make an introduction. My hand stuck out before words came out of my mouth, and the word vomit began. Somewhere along the lines of “oh my gosh you inspire me so much” and “can I get a picture with you?” she stopped me to say I’m the cutest thing ever and she would gladly take a picture with me. My heart literally fell outside my body.
Towering almost two feet overhead, I looked up in awe as she asked, “How short are you exactly?” I couldn’t find anymore words, so my boyfriend, now impromptu photographer stepped in to say 4’9. One flash, two flash, and I was still on top of a cloud. I’m not entirely sure how I made it back to my seat, but I was sure glad that I did. Sitting there in amazement, piece after piece. I was more alive than ever.
I always knew all of my Girls Write Now girls were talented writers, but I was in tears. Different extremes of emotions were flooding my being all at once. Whether it was the very engaging piece about the life cycle of a rock or the unsent letter to a friend, each work spoke truth. They gave such an insight to each and every girl’s identity as a writer but most of all, as a human being.
Sharing a personal piece of writing is always difficult. It leaves you exposed in ways you would never do willingly. That’s why when it was time for me to read my piece, I stood on that stage feeling entirely naked. I was about to tell complete strangers about the skeletons in my own closet, the personal demon that haunted my life. But, this had to be done. I needed this. Darkness cloaked the crowd, and no one else was there. In my head, I imagined my own face. I practiced in front of a mirror so many times, it was easy to visualize. The words began spilling out of my mouth like a river with a broken dam. What seemed like the longest four minutes of my life before flew by before I could blink twice. I stumbled my way back into the darkness.
All I could remember was my mentor holding me, telling me I did great. Her mascara tears spilled upon my white dress but I didn’t care, not one bit. I was not the last performance and certainly not the best. Each girl had something of their own to bring to the table.
Without the diversity found in each and every piece, Girls Write Now would not be the same. We all come from various backgrounds, countries, and experiences, but we all come together to do one thing: write. I left that stage with a burden I could no longer bear finally off my shoulders. I know I was not the only one to feel that way. We each felt a little bit of freedom.